As summer comes to an end, we salute the days of backyard BBQs, burgers, watermelon and cold drinks shared with good friends. I must confess, I’ve eaten a lot of burgers in my time living here in the Bay Area and I’m always on the hunt for more amazing burger places. So, let me share my top 5 burgers I’ve ever had.
#5 Five Guys: (Canada, United Kingdom and United States)
When you think of fast food you probably don’t always think of amazing quality burgers, but Five Guys breaks the mould. In-n-Out has long been touted by many as the fast food burger place to go (trust me, I was once a die-hard fan). However, as far as fast food burger joints are considered, in my opinion, Five Guys is better tasting than In-n-Out. Yes, I said it. Their meat is better quality, it’s juicy and cooked to perfection and the bun is better. Plus, in just 5 minutes, you get a $5 burger with all the free toppings you want. They’re delicious and, surprisingly, rival most restaurant-quality burgers.
#4 Barney’s Gourmet Hamburgers: Various California locations
This kid-friendly establishment has a burger menu that is off the charts and seemingly endless. With 26 different kinds of burgers and 5 different types of patties to choose from (beef, turkey, chicken, salmon or garden patty)…..the options at Barney’s are limitless and something for even the pickiest of palates. Not only that, the burgers themselves are really good—they’re juicy, tender and have fresh toppings. I had the Baja beef burger with bacon, avocado, jack cheese and salsa. Simple, but oh so good. These burgers are made-to-order and cooked how you like them, so I was equally impressed that our meal arrived at our table no more than 10-15 minutes from the time we ordered.
#3 Freehouse Pub: Berkeley, CA
Housed inside this charming and beautiful pub (which ironically, was first a church built in 1926) is a cozy, inviting and warm ambiance with its dark hardwoods, stained glass windows and over-sized couches nestled by a giant fireplace. People come to this UC Berkeley campus establishment mostly for the beer, but I come to Freehouse for their incredibly underrated but tasty burger. It’s a grass fed burger topped with garlic aioli, tomato, red onion, aged white cheddar and thick-cut Applewood smoked bacon served on an incredible bun from Berkeley’s finest bread company, Acme. It’s ridiculously juicy, flavorful and massive. So massive, in fact, that even my post-partum monster of an appetite couldn’t finish the whole burger and plate of fries and I wasn’t hungry for breakfast the next morning. You really get your money’s worth for $10.
#2 Eureka! Discover American Craft: Various California locations (plus, Seattle, WA)
This new-to-Berkeley small chain burger restaurant and bar is earning some serious street cred in the world of burgers. It’s chic, modern-looking (only a ½ block walk from the Downtown Berkeley BART) and has a scrumptious looking burger menu along with many other drool-worthy non-burger items. Osso Buco Riblets? YUM. Honey Cinnamon Sweet Potato Fries? Amazing. Corn dog lollipops? Must try. Good quality meat makes a difference when it comes to a burger and you can tell that this place does not skimp on the quality of their meat. The patties are tender, savory and cooked exactly the way you like it. And, if you’re looking for something other than beef burgers, they offer turkey or veggie patties, items like fried chicken sliders (which are ridiculously delicious), and a red beet/kidney bean burger or a bison burger. With fancy burger toppings like arugula, pancetta, fig marmalade, bone marrow porcini butter, pesto aioli, goat cheese and bacon infused jalapeno jam, Eureka is heaven for burger-loving foodies.
And the #1 spot goes to…..
#1 Silver Star Grill: Half Moon Bay, CA
Stop what you are doing, jump in your car, and road trip to Half Moon Bay for the day (or weekend) to devour this amazing burger. Trust me, you won’t regret it. Hidden away in an unassuming, semi hole-in-the-wall bar and restaurant houses THE BEST BURGER (and fries with killer seasoning) that I have ever had in my entire life. No joke. I must confess, it was so good that I ate their burger twice in less than 24 hours. Again, I’m not joking. I also loved their burger so much that I brought my whole 25 person foodie family to Silver Star Grill on Thanksgiving weekend (not for Thanksgiving dinner though, despite the temptation). Everyone, and I mean everyone in my family loved their burgers. Their burger is made-to-order from high quality grass fed beef topped with the classics: cheddar, lettuce, tomato, bacon (optional) and a delicious special sauce similar to jalapeno tartar. The beef patty is cooked to perfection and is tender, juicy and amazingly flavorful. Many foodgasms were had while eating this burger—I wanted the moment to never end. This burger doesn’t need any extra fancy ingredients to be utterly amazing and can stand on its own two feet as an out-of-this-world delicious yet classic All-American Burger, which is why it earns the #1 spot. (Tip: If you plan visiting this place, just remember that it is cash only).
Five-Ten-Burger Food truck (based out of Oakland, CA)
Al’s Big Burgers (Albany, CA)